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What's Mccain Up To?

If you haven't seen the news, John McCain announced that he's suspending campaigning to negotiate the economic bailout in Washington, and asks Barack Obama to postpone his debate. I don't want to automatically assume the worst here. It's possible McCain feels that he can't handle negotiations and debate prep simultaneously.

On the other hand, I wonder if it's a strategic ploy. The thinking: McCain is behind in the polls, largely because the economic crisis is dominating the campaign. The best weapon left in McCain's arsenal is the foreign policy debate, which could potentially turn the election back to McCain's stronger issue. If the debate's in the middle of an economic crisis, it won't have the impact they need. So: postpone the foreign policy debate until after the bailout has been passed, and then maybe you can change the conversation to foreign policy for an extended period.

A friend emails that Obama should respond, "The president needs to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time; Obama himself is working with leaders on the bailout and doesn't need so much extra time to "cram" for the debates - why should McCain?"

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign has this statement:

At 8:30 this morning, Senator Obama called Senator McCain to ask him if he would join in issuing a joint statement outlining their shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal and urging Congress and the White House to act in a bipartisan manner to pass such a proposal.  At 2:30 this afternoon, Senator McCain returned Senator Obama’s call and agreed to join him in issuing such a statement.  The two campaigns are currently working together on the details.

What will Obama do?

--Jonathan Chait